Know Him As Savior First

An excerpt out of Calling All Workers “The Harvest Is Ripe, the Worker Is You!” by Michelle E. Caswell
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The more you realize how much you have truly been forgiven for, the deeper you will be able to love. You are not any better than anyone else. We are all horrible sinners. The quicker you know that, the more deeply you can connect with the Lord and others. God knows how bad we are, how good we think we are, and He still chose us. God sees the end from the beginning. He saw all the sins you were going to commit, and He looked at you and said, “See that one? I’ll take her as my own.” Let that one sink in a minute.

God has so many names and titles, but you need to know Him as your Savior first, because the greatest commandment is love—and the key to experiencing that kind of love is realizing what you’ve been forgiven for.
Those who have been forgiven much, love much.
— Luke 7:47 (paraphrase of verse)

What have you been forgiven for? Reach into the depths of your painful past, and recount the things He has forgiven you for—in order for you to love better. This will also give you the joy of your salvation back! Keep in mind, it’s important to look at your sin without downplaying it by comparing it to someone else’s “worse” sin.

Real Life Example:
I had been in rehab for a few months at the time, and I remember holding onto the “fact” that I was a good person who happened to have a drug addiction. I mean, “Come on Lord…I would give my last cigarette, smoke my last bowl of marijuana with someone, make dinner for elderly neighbors, I was even nice when I turned a guy down who asked me to dance. I was a good person, and I still am.”

I was trying to make myself not feel so bad. In fact, I was justifying my behavior to the Lord, while trying to convince myself that my “good deeds” could cancel out my sin. I wanted to hold onto some shred of self-esteem. That’s when the Lord knocked me off my high horse and showed me my motives.

He said, “Look at the reasons that you chose to do those things for people…it was all about what they thought of you, not that you cared about them. You made dinner for those elderly women, because a guy was watching you—and you wanted him to think that you would be a good wife. Apart from me, you are nothing.”

I doubled over, holding my stomach and bawling. I realized that I had absolutely nothing to offer, and there was no good in me. That’s the day I really began to change. I was emptied of myself, and the Lord was able to start filling me back up with Him.

When you realize the sin in your own life—whether past or present—and recognize Jesus as your much-needed Savior, it will help you relate better to those the Lord calls you to work with, and will give you a deeper compassion for them. You don’t have to have a super crazy testimony to have a deep understanding and appreciation for God’s grace and how to love His people. You don’t need to experience the exact same trauma or sin in your past to be able to empathize with someone’s deep pain. However, when truly recognizing your own deep pains and horrible sin choices, you will be more equipped with compassion than if you don’t allow yourself to go there. So GO THERE. Take some time with the Lord, and ask Him to remind you of all the things He’s forgiven you for—and then begin to thank Him.

Too many times, we want to compare our sins to another, and decide for ourselves that their sin is worse than ours. That is not how the Lord weighs sin. You have been forgiven of so much, so take the time to recognize it, and watch the joy of your salvation return!

“Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown.
But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
— Luke 7:47

Abandoned by God

Original Post October of 2013

I used to feel Him all the time as a little girl, knowing He was with me wherever I went, even when I was in trouble and sent to my room. I used to make up songs to sing to Him and I could tell He really liked my singing! We did everything together. Jesus was my best friend.

Fast forward twenty something years…I was having a hard time with who God had become. In my mind, He left me and was way up in Heaven sitting on a throne where He judged me and every other sinner. It was like He had a G.P.S. unit on me, so He knew where I was and what I was doing wrong. He was not happy with me, in fact He was very disappointed and mad at me! He would look at me and shake his head from side to side in disgust saying, “Get it together, will ya? You know better!”

Down on my knees in prayer I would beg Him not to leave me. Over and over again I would pray “Please Lord don’t leave me, please Lord. I’m so sorry for messing up, please forgive me. I’m trying, I’m really trying this time!” I had so much fear of not “making the cut” and Him leaving me again. I knew that He could never love me or even like me with ALL that I had done, but I was still hoping He might let me into Heaven if I did enough good deeds and didn’t mess up anymore.

Fast forward another year…I was really struggling with anxiety over some inappropriate thoughts I was having, so I went on a “praise walk” through the forest with someone and began thanking the Lord out-loud for the blessings He had given me, just trying to get my anxiety to calm down. We decided to sit down on a bench and pray it out. With a very heavy heart and my head bowed, I began crying out to God. “Lord, I am so unworthy. I am so unworthy. I don’t even know why you chose me? I keep messing up! Please, please don’t leave me.”

As my head hung down in utter shame and insecurity, I felt the Lord come down off His throne and kneel down beside me. He put His arm around my shoulder and looked at me. To my shock and dismay, it was JESUS, MY FRIEND-the One I knew when I was little!!

He gently said, “Michelle, I AM the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. I didn’t change, just your view of Me did. When I said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you, that meant I would never leave your body. I have always been with you and I always will be.”

Tears poured from my eyes and dripped off my face. I felt so happy to have my friend back and so relieved that He wasn’t going to leave me! That truth was HUGELY eye opening for me; from the time I got saved by confessing that Jesus was my Lord and Savior, He had been with me and had never and will never leave me! That was the day that the Lord healed my fear of abandonment (with Him at least). “Know the truth and the Truth will set you free.” John 8:32

This revelation was not just for me, it’s for YOU too. Take the Lord at His word today and be set free in this area like I was.

Trusting Him in Transparency

Originally posted in October of 2013.

I’ve heard it said many times before “us women have to wear so many hats.” Why don’t we change the word, hats to masks? Isn’t that what it really means anyways? I know that’s not how it’s taught, but isn’t that what we as women tend to do? Generally when this term is used, we change our personality based on the “hat” we’re wearing at the time. We act one way at church, another way at home, at the office, out with the girls and when no one is looking.

I used to call myself a chameleon, because I changed my “mask” to suit whatever situation I was in, so that I would be accepted. I used to believe it was a good trait…I was a people person who could fit in anywhere, taking the verse “becoming all things to all people” (1 Corinthians 9:22) way too far AND out of context!

Fast forward: After six years of being single, I felt I was finally ready to re-enter the “dating scene!” I had completely put my trust in the Lord to protect my heart and to choose the right guy for me. I vowed to be the real me-right from the start, genuine. It was important that I portrayed the new me accurately, because I didn’t want to fall into the trap of “taking it up a notch or down a notch” to get a man’s attention, as was the habit in my old lifestyle. My desire was to be loved for me, not some mask I created to be accepted. Thanks be to God, I was a whole person…not a “half looking for another half, trying to make a whole” – I was a whole person looking for another whole person to share my life with, not willing to settle for half of God’s will for my life or even three quarters of it – I wanted His PERFECT WILL!

Not long after mustering up the courage to join an on-line dating site, the Lord brought my attention to the man He had chosen to answer my prayers with. Matt lived nearly five hours away, which forced us to get to know each other long distance. Early on, we exchanged several emails and texts in which I shared pieces of my background, a basic summary.  It wasn’t long before Matt starting asking for details. Despite having told my story on countless stages with hundreds of people in the crowd, I found myself afraid to tell this audience of one.  I feared that the specific details of my past would be “deal breakers” for this promising new relationship.  One night, over the phone, I answered Matt’s questions. I told him… “Matt, I gotta keep it real with you- I know that being vulnerable with you means risking you rejecting the real me, but this is where my trust in the Lord will win over my fear.”

In anticipation of his response, my fear rose, my heart dang near pounded out of my chest and I braced myself for the worst possible outcome. In my mind, I could already hear him say: “Whoa…Michelle, uh…ya…we get along really well and you’re really cool and all, but ya…that’s just too much for me to handle. I don’t think this is going to work out between us.”

He never answered that way, in fact, he responded with, “Wow, you have been through a lot. I can’t even picture you in that lifestyle. I am so proud of the woman you have allowed God to make you into. Thank you for doing the hard work to get healthy. I am so blessed, because of it.” You see, Matt and I have very different pasts. There were SO many details from my past I was obligated to share with him, and he had only about three to tell me! I wanted him to like me so much, but I wondered if a guy “like him” could fall for a girl “like me?” The answer: YES, most definitely YES! You see, despite the choices I made in life, I remained God’s creation and He approved of me and so did the man He had prepared for me.

My faith in the Lord grew to a deeper level when I decided to be the real me and put away the masks I would wear to impress people. A true woman of integrity where my insides matched my outsides, deciding to wear the same “hat” no matter where I was at or what I was doing. Hiding behind the masks to “protect myself” did feel safer, but it wasn’t real. It wasn’t me. What helped me the most was to remind myself that God hand crafted me and loved me for me, right from the beginning, so if God approved of me, then why shouldn’t I?

“If God is for me, who can be against me?” Romans 8:31

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ALL In

Original Post was on Dec. 20, 2013

Surrender done right is not a one-time act, it’s a lifestyle. There is the initial time where you make the choice to go “all in” with the Lord and surrender anything you can think of, but then it’s important to continue in that manner and begin living a life of surrender, by daily giving everything to Him.

On New Year’s Eve 2011 we were having a huge party, Christian style, in other words, no drugs or illicit sex, just a bunch of people having fun together who used to partake in all of that. Everyone was dressed up, everything was decorated and the bass was bumping. It reminded me of my clubbing days, except that I was in my right mind and not intoxicated. Going dancing at clubs used to be my favorite hobby, so giving it up was really tough for me, but I knew I needed to though, because of all that went along with it. I actually started going to dance clubs twice a week from the age of fourteen and it had been 5 years since I had been, so this party was a safe way for me to enjoy something old in a new way.

As I sat at my table catching up with some folks a techno song came on that I used to dance to when I was high on Ecstasy. I instantly felt paralyzed as I stared off into space. It was like I was back there. Most people who use Ecstacy take a half of a pill and sometimes a whole pill for an entire night, however there were many times that I took multiple pills in one night, sometimes as many as five. It still amazes me that I made it out alive. The song reminded me of my second marriage…my ex-husband, you see, he is the one who introduced me to hard drugs which he encouraged me to use with him for the purpose of “spicing things up.” In my healthy frame of mind, I now know that His definition of “spicing things up” is equivalent to what most people would consider to be sick perversion. Due to the drug induced daze I was in, it took me a long time to realize that I had passed from Party Girl to Drug Addict.

I was shaken out of my triggered state as I heard clapping and people chanting my teenage son’s name “Stefan, Stefan, Stefan” I turned around to see that they had made a big circle out of people around him and wanted him to show off his moves. He jumped into the circle and danced to the song that had reminded me of something evil. Without Stefan’s knowledge, God was using him to heal me. Happy tears filled my eyes as I knew the Lord was taking that moment in time to replace an old evil memory with a new innocent one.

We were having a talent show that night and everyone was working on their talent, but I didn’t have anything in mind yet. Then the Lord impressed on my heart to dance for Him to that song. So as the talent show was coming to an end I asked someone to start flickering the lights as if to create a strobe light effect. I had everyone make a huge circle on the dance floor, grabbed the mic and said “Earlier there was a song that played that triggered me really bad to the point of almost ruining my night, but then I saw my kid dance to it. I used to go “all out” in my past for Satan, so tonight I’m going to surrender all that I am and dance for my Savior Jesus Christ.” I made my way into the circle and danced like I’d never danced before, giving all the glory to my Lord. A bunch of my Girls joined me on the floor to show their support. I started bawling. It’s a good thing it was dark, so they couldn’t see my tears. A bunch of my boy’s friends came up to me after and were shocked “Dang, we didn’t know you could dance like that.”    “Ha, ha…there’s a lot of things you don’t know about me.”

Once again I chose to surrender all, not holding anything back. I went all in for the Devil in my past and now I needed to do the same for my Savior only in an appropriate way. I even gave Him dancing-one of my favorite things, He changed it and gave it back. What are you still holding onto that the Lord is prompting you to surrender? You’ll be glad you did, I promise.

The night my virginity was restored!

Original post was on 10-10-13

Prior to our wedding night on December 16th, 2012 I had never made love.

It was THE BEST night of my life! I had always thought that “making love” meant going slow, but that term was redefined for me that night. I was so…very, very wrong! One might assume that with a sexual past like mine I would have a solid understanding of what “making love” consisted of, however this path was one I had never walked before…I had nothing to compare this to. For the first time I was genuinely loved for the real me, not just my body or how I performed. It was the fruition of our real love for each other.

We drove to our hotel after the reception was over, strolled into the hotel lobby with our luggage rolling behind us when I started cracking up. My laugh must have been contagious, because he looked over at me and started laughing too. “What are you laughing about?” He chuckled. I giggled and nervously replied “we’re married, we’re in the lobby of OUR hotel, and we’re about to go up to OUR room?!”

A few days before the wedding, he asked me “Michelle, what would you think about waiting until we arrive in Hawaii to consummate our marriage?” “ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I have WAITED 6 YEARS, 9 MONTHS and 9 DAYS to make love to you!” Actually that’s not what I said, but it was what I thought! I reluctantly agreed after he shared his reasons with me.

Actually, it was kind of nice to have the pressure of the “wedding night” expectations relieved. However, the idea of being unclothed in front of each other for the first time brought anxiety on us both.

Meanwhile, back at the honeymoon suite…I took a deep breath and thought to myself…I AM SO NERVOUS!!! We were standing face to face, well more like face to chest (he’s a foot taller than me) when the time had come to drop my dress, so I mustered up the courage and just did it. As my dress and his jaw dropped simultaneously to the floor, I instinctively rushed to cover my eyes. I laughed uncontrollably-my hands absolutely glued to my face! My brand new husband, recovering from shock, said “WOW, Michelle you are so beautiful” as he nervously checked out his new bride. His gentle way eventually gave me the courage to uncover my face.

That was the night I had looked forward to, yet greatly feared, for many years! “What if I get triggered and my addiction returns?” Here’s the crazy part…I felt like an innocent bride, one that had never been touched by a man. I actually felt more pure that night than I did when I was thirteen. That was the moment I KNEW, without a doubt, that God had truly healed me!

Fast forward: we didn’t wait till Hawaii!!! 😉

So how does a woman who has “crossed the line of no return” have her virginity restored? Continue to “follow me” as I blog the details of how this miracle happened for me and can happen for you or someone you love.

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Please HELP!?

One of my dear friends is going through a “rough patch” in her life and sent me a text asking for urgent prayer. The basic content of her situation is that she just returned from a trip to find a message that her job had ended abruptly. On top of that, her savings are depleted, her 401k has run out and her daughter’s braces are only half way through the process and the payments will be due soon.

With this sudden loss of income it’s only a matter of time before they lose their apartment. She has plans in place if they lose their home, but they are FAR from ideal. Her son (a junior in high school) would have to stay with his aunt near the school and my friend and her daughter would have to move an hour away to stay with a friend, until she’s able to get “on her feet” financially, which means their family would be separated and her daughter would have to go to an unfamiliar school in another district.

After I got the text and asked more questions to clarify the situation, I immediately told my husband about it and started preaching a sermon right in our kitchen saying, “We as Christians are to take care of our own, we’re called to take care of the poor, the widows and the orphans. We are so stingy with our money and possessions and we need to knock it off. I’m so sick of people not helping those that really need help or saying, I’ll pray for you as a cop-out verses helping them in a practical way. We should just pay for her rent…all of it. I wish I had a stage right now to tell people that this is our duty…to take care of people who really need it. I want to spur people on towards good works. We need to be DOERS of the word not just HEARERS.”

His gentle response surprised me, “You do have a stage.”

Puzzled and a little flustered I responded, “What do you mean?”

He said, “Your website and Facebook. Tell her story and ask them for help.”

So here I am on my virtual stage asking for your help…

I took what my husband said and went to work on it right away, by putting the call out for help late Friday night…I posted a prayer request and a plea for financial help on Facebook and now I’m writing a blog to reach more people. I went to bed thinking about it  and woke up doing the same.
“What can I do? Who do I know that could help her? Lord, please, please help her through Your people.”

So far, only two women have stepped up to help out financially and one is a single mom and the other used to be. I don’t mean to condemn you, but I do mean to shake you up a bit and even upset you to the point that you will choose to help people when they need it. You never know, it may be you that needs the help someday and I could be posting a plea on your behalf.

This is my friend’s greatest fear coming true…losing her home and being separated from her kids. Now I know that there are those that “work the system” but this is not one of them. I run across these situations all the time and I’m pretty discerning about a person’s authenticity. This woman is a classy go-getter who is going through a difficult time in her life and just needs some help to stay afloat. She’s a respectable woman, who doesn’t use drugs or even date. She’s a hard worker, a dedicated mom and an awesome friend to those who get the privilege. She is down to nothing and needs a little time to get a new job, so she is able to support her family again.

Their rent is due on September 1st and is $1, 350. Will you help this family?

Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them. If you can help your neighbor now, don’t say, “Come back tomorrow, and then I’ll help you.” Proverbs 3:27-28.

To help them out financially:
Please write a check to “Purely His, Inc.” and mail it:
PO Box 656, Medford OR 97501

These are the types of things we do with donations…meeting practical needs is a part of mentoring sometimes. All donations are tax deductible.

Gift Giver

I’ve always been one to give “unwanted advice” to all I come in contact with, whether they like it or not. Call it a gift, call it a curse, I choose to see it as a gift.

As I surrendered my life to the Lord, He really did begin to use me in powerful ways when I would be “giving advice.” On many occasions people have cried and thanked me for pointing them in the right direction. I’ve seen countless people set free as I shared who Jesus really was and what He wanted to do, in and through their lives.

There were several times where I would surrender my mouth to Him and ask Him to speak through me, prior to mentoring a Girl and when I opened my mouth, His words would come out and freedom would take place. Women who were bound for years-were free in moments, because of His words through my mouth.

Some people are unknowingly vessels for Satan and some are intentional vessels for the Lord. I decided to surrender all that I am to Him 8 years ago, including my mouth and my words and He has used them powerfully.

I had been told by a few people that I had a prophetic gift, which cracked me up. “How ridiculous, aren’t prophets the ones that see and predict the future?” So I decided to take a spiritual gift test and to my surprise, it confirmed what others told me, so I did some research and learned more about this “gift” I had. I learned that some prophets do see things in the future, but more common than not, were those that were used as the mouthpiece for God.

Then the Lord quickly reminded me that while growing up I heard the voice of the Lord clearly. He would say to me, “If you can hear me? Then speak it out.” So I just learned say out-loud what He was saying to me, whether in my private prayer life or when I was with someone. I have done it for so long that I don’t question if it’s Him anymore, like I used to. I know it is. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” John 10:27

As I learned that I had this gift, the Lord reminded me that He had been training me to use it since I was little, by asking if I could hear Him and then speaking it out. He knew what my future held. The Bible says “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” Romans 11:29 and some translations say “Your gifts and your calling are without repentance.”

I needed to learn how to use this gift the right way, mostly by surrendering myself to the One who gave me it to me. He gave it to me before I gave Him my life, before I was living the right way. He knew I was going to choose Him and He blessed me with a gift that He could give to others through me.

His love for all of us completely blows my mind…the way He blesses us, before we even care about Him is astonishing to me! Something to keep in mind when you realize that you are really good or gifted at something…He wants you to use them for the greater good of mankind. He blesses us, not just for us, but to bless others through us. Surrender your life and gifts to Him today and intentionally surrender yourself to be used by Him and watch the lives He changes through you.

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.” 1 Corinthians 12:7-11

Chained Freedom-Part 2

My guard was up when we first walked into the prison cafeteria where I was going to speak. All of the inmates wore identical t-shirts and dark-colored denim pants stamped in orange with the initials of the prison they currently called home. I had wished that I had worn my “tough girl” clothes, but instead I chose to wear my pansy, princess attire. Ha, ha, ha. I wondered how they would receive me…would they think I couldn’t relate because I had never been to prison?

The room started to fill up fast. Some looked like your typical next door neighbor, school teacher, mother, grandmother, and a few that looked pretty hard core. They wore no chains around their ankles or handcuffs on their wrists. There were no barriers between us, we were permitted to mingle unrestrained.

This unique opportunity was extra special to me, not only because of the setting, but also because it was my mentor (Patti) who invited me to speak at the prison. Years earlier, God used Patti to pull me out of my old lifestyle. When I first met her, she was volunteering as a recovery mentor at the women’s prison and at local jails. One day, while driving me to rehab, Patti took me to the jail and gave me the opportunity to encourage and pray for a young, pregnant inmate who had plans to return to her abusive boyfriend upon her release. It was an honor and a major boost of confidence that Patti trusted me in that way, despite the condition of my life at the time.

Patti began my introduction to the women of Coffee Creek by telling them the story of how we met. Humble, grateful tears slid down my cheeks (I was thankful to have waterproof mascara on). My nervousness left me as soon as I began to speak, I felt as if I was talking to a group of close friends. I was in my element.

I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself while on stage because of a truth the Lord revealed to me. I drove five hours with the purpose and intention to “minister” to and encourage these prisoners but in reality I was being ministered to and encouraged by them. Some of those Girls were more passionate about their faith than most people I see in church.

Jesus used me to remind them that they were freer behind bars then most of the people on the outside. He wanted them to know that their ministry was where their feet were placed and He wanted to use them as a light in that dark place. I encouraged them to make the most out of every opportunity by witnessing to each other, the officers who guard them, and every missionary who comes into “help” them. I reminded them that they have a very unique perspective and special relationship with Jesus that needs to be shared.

Patti interjected when I had finished telling my story. She explained to the women, “God is no respecter of persons. Michelle was changed by Him and the only thing she did and continues to do is go ALL IN with Jesus.” Patti asked that all the women who wished to follow my example to raise their hand or stand up. The response was overwhelming. Women stood to their feet and hands shot up all over the room. I could hear them sobbing, sniffling and agreeing with me in prayer.

You see, when a person loses everything that ever mattered to them and all that remains is their relationship with the Lord, they realize that He is all they need. We should envy this kind of authentic relationship with Jesus that these precious women possess. We don’t have to get locked up to experience it either, it’s available to all of us.

Our time together concluded with us swaying side to side, hand in hand, singing a praise song to Jesus. I thought to myself “I never want to forget this moment, this is absolutely beautiful. I can picture us singing together in Heaven someday just like this.”

I realized through this experience that many of the inmates are freer than most people on the “outside.” The freedom they know is the same freedom offered to us all, but sadly many of us don’t walk in that truth. If you are a Believer in Jesus, then your “prison sentence” has been forgiven….you have been pardoned by the sacrificial love of your Savior and the prison door has been opened for you. You must make the decision to take His hand and allow him to walk you out of the walls that contain you. The Lord approaches you and says “Come, take My hand. I died to set you free & you are free indeed…now kick that self-made prison door open and walk out of there!” Okay, Jesus didn’t exactly say that…that is my interpretation.

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to those who are bound Isaiah 61:1

Chained Freedom-Part 1

I shared my story last week with 100 inmates and several workers at Coffee Creek Women’s Correctional Institute. It was an absolute blast and I can’t wait to do it again. Speaking at a prison is different than sharing my story at a church, because it has the potential to be a bit more dangerous. For instance: I wanted to wear a scarf with my attire but thought, “Um…not smart. A scarf can easily be turned into a weapon I could be strangled with. Better not.” Sometimes I do crazy things and then realize afterward the magnitude of what I just did, but it doesn’t dissuade me from getting my hands dirty for the kingdom’s cause. It’s actually quite the adrenaline rush, you should try it.

My husband, two girls and our puppy joined me for the drive there. It was really neat for them all to feel involved in what the Lord is doing through this ministry. It took us almost 5 hours to get there and I needed to find a place along the way to get ready, so I did my makeup in the car and performed a wardrobe change in a Denny’s restroom along the way. I also felt the need to make a change of heart, because this audience I would soon be speaking with was important to me and I wanted to be used mightily to give them hope. I wanted something fresh for them, not a recited testimony. I wanted to tell them everything the Lord wanted me to say, so I asked my friends to pray over this event, and I surrendered my words, fears and hopes to Him.

About an hour before our arrival, The Lord gave me the song “Freedom Reigns” by Jesus Culture. It’s based off the scripture, “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom”. Using my smartphone, I found the song on YouTube, put in my ear buds, cranked the volume and proceeded to lose it (don’t worry, my husband was driving). My emotions overtook me as I pictured these women behind bars, some having lost their kids or grand kids to foster care or adoption. Many lost their homes, jobs, marriages, kids and even their teeth. From the outside looking in, they appear to have nothing…they are the shame of society…marked for life. BUT Jesus is in that place and therefore they are able to experience the freedom only He offers. He loves them so dearly, so deeply and He imparted that same compassionate love for them into my heart as I listened to that song.

The closest personal experience I could relate to imprisonment was the year and a half I spent in rehab nearly a decade ago. Normally when I talk about my rehab experience I gloss over it and only share some of what the Lord taught me there. I don’t often share about the hard times in rehab because of the painful memories of being without my two young boys for so long, but I felt compelled to be vulnerable with these women.

The realization of what I was about to do hit hard when we pulled into the parking lot and saw the looped barbed wire atop the fence which encircled the compound. My daughters were very nervous for me, one of them said “please don’t die in there,” as her eyes filled up with tears. My family prayed over me before I walked through the gates and out of their sight, into the cold-looking, steel-doored, concrete fortress. Nervousness set in as I awaited my turn through the metal detector. Through thick, shatter-proof glass I saw for the first time some of the women I would be speaking to.

“Okay, Lord here we go. Have your way through me.” My heart felt like it was about to pound out of my chest as the adrenaline started to pump through my veins.

Listen to this song, so you can hear what I heard and picture these same women.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M753W0JeANk

TO BE CONTINUED on Wednesday……….

Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.” Hebrews 13:3

Seeds

So maybe you aren’t a gardener like me, but you are the master gardener (for lack of better words) of your own life. You choose the seeds to plant in your garden. You decide whether to water, fertilize or plant in a sunny area. However, in the end it is God that brings the harvest. He says “a man reaps what he sows.” Galatians 6:7

You want a new life? You want things to change? Then change it, by planting different seeds. Start making different choices and your life will begin to transform.

One good decision after another, results in a good life. One bad decision after another, makes for a bad life. I find it funny when I get a call from a Girl who’s life has fallen apart and she doesn’t understand what transpired. Hmm…let’s take a look at your life, “Oh, you’ve been getting drunk on a regular basis, you’re living with your boyfriend even though you both claim to be Christians, the two of you fight all the time, you’re miserable, insecure and wonder what happened?”

I’ll tell ya what happened. One bad choice after another landed you in this miserable situation you now find yourself in. Sorry, I know the truth hurts, but it also has the ability to set you free as well.

My life used to be an absolute mess too, but then I heard that God could change my life. I thought He would just say the word and my life would change, as if to wave the magic wand and presto, but that never happened. My life actually got worse. It took years before I finally realized that God wanted me to participate in the process of my life transformation. He wanted me to take responsibility for my own actions and start making healthy choices, by using His power to pull it off.

I realized that I had a ton of little opportunities all throughout the day, so I started making good choices and doing the right thing even though no one was watching. Being a “bad girl-gone good” was very difficult, but once I made a habit of making healthy choices, I began to see the desired results and the healthy habit became easier to maintain.

The Bible says “He that is faithful in the small will be faithful in much.” Luke 16:10

For the last year, I’ve been planting seeds with very little growth, so it seemed. I’ve worked so hard, diligently doing things that are outside of my gifting and experience as I’ve tried to get this ministry off the ground. Here’s me keeping it real…I was uncomfortable, anxious, and had bouts of disbelief while waiting for results and not seeing them right away. It made me question whether I had what it took to accomplish what I knew God had called me to do.

Those fears and insecurities came from not being able to see instant results. The results were coming, but I couldn’t see them. Besides do I really want results that happen quickly, only to die just as quick as they came or do I want results that last a lifetime? The latter of course. It has taken patience and trust on my part to not give up and keep going and I’m so glad I did, because it’s finally happening. What if I would have given up?

A few months ago things started to change…I started meeting like-minded women in my area with a heart for Jesus and doing His work. Then over the last few weeks things have really started to pick up. People are approaching me who want to help get this ball rolling, donations are beginning to come in and a couple of churches and other ministries have expressed a desire to partner with Purely His.

I say all of this to encourage those of you who have been working really hard with little to no results, planting seeds with no visible harvest to speak of. Please keep planting those good seeds, because they are taking root, deep roots that will be strong during the storms that are sure to come. Those plants will begin to shoot up before you know it and the harvest will be plentiful! You may even have to hire people to help you reap. I also challenge those of you who’s lives are in turmoil…start making different, healthier choices. You won’t regret it.

I understand that others choices affect our lives negatively too, but we can’t use them as an excuse. We are responsible for the way we choose to respond and what seeds we choose to plant.

God will not be mocked. Plant good seeds = good life. Plant bad seeds = bad life.

 

Michelle's Blog